The fact that the royal family didn’t protect Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex from constant racist attacks by the British press is not the bombshell revelation of Harry & Meghan. Just how deeply manipulative they were in trying to cause her downfall provides the truly shocking moments of the final three episodes of the Netflix docuseries.
Their love story picks up where it left off with their wedding. Other than being stunned by the huge scope of the crowd, they relive the proceedings like any other couple. They recount cutting the cake with a sword, Meghan’s mom Doria’s excitement over seeing Elton John perform and how she asked then-Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle.
“Harry’s dad is very charming. And I said to him, I’ve lost my dad in this. So him as my father-in-law was really important to me,” Meghan said. “So I asked him to walk me down the aisle, and he said yes. The whole thing was surreal.”
It’s after the romance of their wedding that everything changes. They take their first official royal trip to Australia and it instantly becomes clear that Meghan is immensely popular, something not everyone is happy about. After that it becomes open season on the duchess in the British tabloids. The endless attacks, most of them deeply racist, took a toll on Meghan, leading her into depression and suicidal thoughts. Doria tearfully recalls feeling helpless to protect her daughter.
“I remember her telling me that, she wanted to take her own life,” Doria said. “That really broke my heart, because I knew that it was bad, but to just constantly be picked at by these vultures that she would actually think of not wanting to be here—that’s not an easy one for a mom to hear. I can’t protect her, H [Harry] can’t protect her.”
It’s in this moment that Harry becomes his most vulnerable, lamenting that he wasn’t as supportive as he should have been during her crisis. He says, “I was “institutional Harry, not husband Harry.”
The episode ends with Meghan’s revealing interview in South Africa, after which the couple realizes their life needs to change.
With the press now exploiting Meghan’s estranged relationship with her father, some of the public begins to turn against her. They believe the lies, so the campaign to ruin her is working.
After the Daily Mail publishes a private letter Meghan wrote to her father, the institution advises them not to sue, but it’s such an egregious invasion of their privacy, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decide to pursue a lawsuit. It’s at this point that Harry and Meghan realize she’s become a scapegoat. Every time a negative story about another member of the family comes up, there’s suddenly mess about Meghan on the front page. And most of it is false.
“I did everything I could to make them proud, to be part of the family,” Meghan said. “Then the bubble burst. I realized that I wasn’t just being thrown to the wolves, I was being fed to the wolves.”
When the media frenzy becomes overwhelming, they head to Canada for a break from everything. While there, they start to consider the idea of moving out of England, but staying within the Commonwealth. Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are all discussed, and at one point, a deal is made for them to live in South Africa. But when it’s leaked, that no longer becomes a possibility.
When the duo’s private communications are once again leaked—this time private emails between Harry and Charles where they discuss the couple’s plans to move—Harry and Meghan decide it’s time to go and release their own statement announcing plans to step back as senior royals. Despite months of negotiations, the narrative is that they blindsided the Queen with the announcement.
“She told me that she had no plans for the week. I rang her and said ‘I’ve been told that you’re busy’ and she goes yes ‘I didn’t know that I’m busy but I’ve been told I’m busy,” Harry recalls.
“They’re blocking you from seeing the Queen, but really what they’re doing is blocking a grandson from seeing his grandmother,” Meghan adds.
Multiple times throughout the series Harry explains how far the communications teams and staff go to protect their principals, and it’s never more evident than in the discussions around the couple moving away from the family. These people wanted Meghan out and even arranged it so she wouldn’t be at the meeting where they made decisions about the future of her family.
“Imagine a conversation, a roundtable discussion about the future of your life when the stakes were this high, and you as the mom and the wife, and the target in many regards, aren’t invited to have a seat at the table,” Meghan said.
Harry had a contentious, heated meeting with Charles, William and the Queen, after which, stories that William bullied Harry out of the family started making the rounds.
“It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that simply weren’t true, and to have my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in,” Harry said.
Hours later a joint statement from the two brothers denying the bullying was issued. Harry had no involvement in this statement, angering him and cementing the fact that the family will never protect Meghan no matter what happens.
“They were happy to lie to protect my brother, but weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect us,” he says.
Meghan is blamed for the decision to leave, with online misinformation leading to dangerous death threats.
“It’s because of people creating hate. I’m a mom, it’s my real life, you see it and go ‘You’re making people want to kill me,’” she said. “It’s not just some story. You are making me scared. Are my babies safe? You’ve created it for what? Because you’re bored or because it sells your papers.”
The family punishes them by pulling their security, leaving them in an even more vulnerable position.
After the chaos of their move to Canada, the couple are swarmed by press until an unexpected savior comes to their rescue: Tyler Perry. Turns out the filmmaker was following Meghan’s story and had previously sent her a letter of support before their wedding. When she called him to talk, he offered them his estate and security while they figured out their next steps. This was all happening just as COVID was starting to shut down the world, so they had to act fast.
Perry allowed them to stay at his home as long as they needed to, but once again, they were quickly besieged by press. The Madea actor stated that several celebrities live in the same neighborhood as him and he’s never seen this much media bombarding the area. As the trio walks the grounds and discusses everything that went down, it becomes clear that a strong friendship was born out of the director’s kindness. That’s confirmed when he reveals that they asked him to be their daughter Lilibet’s godfather.
As all this is happening, the lawsuit with the Daily Mail is still going on, with the paper using every trick it can to embarrass the couple, while also gaining more access into their lives. As the suit gets more stressful, it affects Meghan mentally and physically. She suffers a miscarriage that Harry believes was caused by the paper, “because of what the Mail did, bearing in mind the stress.”
Once they decided to tell their own story in the Oprah interview, the pair’s honesty opened the door to some interesting messages. One from Beyonce, causing an adorable response from both, and the other from Prince William. You can see the tortured place Harry finds himself in when he says “I wish I knew what to do.” Viewers never find out what was said in the text.
In the end, Harry and Meghan are at peace with their lives now, delighting in the idea that their kids get to have normal lives.
“Home sweet home. We are exactly where we are supposed to be,” Harry said. “We’ve made it to the other side. Love wins.”
Harry & Meghan is now available on Netflix.